My family and I recently went to Hong Kong for some R and R and while doing some research, I found out about this newly established theme park whose main attraction is a replica of Noah’s Ark from the Bible. We’ve been to Hong Kong several times before but this was the first time we ventured into park, situated at the newly developed Ma Wan District. There were several other attractions around the park too. The HKD$153 admission entitles guests access to the Ark Life Education House, Special Exhibition, Treasure House, Nature Garden, Ark Expo, Ark Garden and the Solar Tower.
However, while I did appreciate what the park was trying to do, after a couple of hours taking in the view, I felt that the park was better suited as an educational field trip rather than a tourist attraction.
Total number of hours spent: 4 (including lunch)
On the plus side, the Ark Expo actually features cool exhibits, ranging from some species of birds (not rare), tools, earthenware, wood and carpentry tools possibly used for the ark, an exhibit of the ark, mostly decorations depicting Noah and the animals, some interactive games for kids, a bit of history about how a team of Hong Kong evangelists were part of a team that uncovered leads that may confirm that remains of the Ark are in Mt. Ararat.
There are also two #D features at the expo, one in a 360 degree theater depicting the history of the Ark as told by the Bible, complete with special effects (not recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure and heart attacks) and another featuring a character called Earth Boy, who represents Mother Earth. The second feature is a combination of animation and documentary about how the Earth is wasting away due to pollution and man’s abuse. Highly recommended for children of pre-school up to elementary age. For adults, not so much.
We took our chances with the Ark Life Education House on the first floor and as with most of the exhibits, this one was for kids as well. However, I appreciated the positive messages that the exhibit featured in fun and creative ways. It carried messages about kindness, self worth, respect for others, and even had exercises about facing adversity. The staff was having a bit of fun at our expense as she explained to us the different sections of the “House” but she was very nice about it. I think she was feeling a bit embarrassed for us because she saw that we were enjoying the place too much for our age. She also gave us a heads up that the next floor, which housed the Treasure House, was even kiddier than her section. We did take her advice, and only spared a glance at the 2nd floor, because it was better suited for kindergartners indeed!
Grub was passable at the Harvest Restaurant, and affordable at HKD$58 for a complete meal. But just as we guessed, the place was soon swarmed by kiddies (and their parents) on a field trip, soon after we arrived.
The Solar Tower though a bit of an exercise to go to just adjacent to the Noah’s Ark facility, is pretty quiet although it does feature some very nice exhibits of the planets and other goings on in space. It also houses one of the very first 350 mm vacuum solar telescopes which has been opened to the public and also allows researchers to further their study of the sun and other solar activities. This telescope gives guests a real time view of the sun at the center of the exhibition hall. We literally had the tower to ourselves and had our private screening of NASA’s 3D SUN which mainly chronicles advancements made by scientists since deploying twin stereos on opposite sides of the big ball of fire, and how having 3D images of the sun helps us counter threats in space climate. The documentary was well made but a bit too long and filled with a lot of scientific jargon for my appreciation but let me just say that I do appreciate the work that these scientists are doing to reach out to the regular folk, and the strides they are making in the fields of science is just unbelievable.
All in all, I must say that there were high points and low points to our Noah’s Ark adventure. Since it is a new facility, there is plenty that still needs to be done. Better signages for one, because it could be so easy to get lost in a place as huge as this one. More staff visibility, and perhaps a bit of music to liven up the place like Disneyland wouldn’t hurt. The place has a lot of potential, but it needs to market itself as a fun place to learn, and not just bank on the majesty of the replica to draw in guests. It needs to be a place that not just students will enjoy but even tourists, and even locals. When we went, there were hardly any guests and I worry that the upkeep would cost too much and that if guests do not sustain the maintenance cost, the park might simply close down and go to waste.
While the place does cater to events, the location, for one, is a problem. It is not easily accessible as it situated in the heart of residential district. We thought that we had the wrong bus (ride the Ma Wan bus line) going into the place because all we passed were houses. The park’s attempt to draw the adult crowd with its Adventureland also fell flat because it looked so out of place in the facility. The stadium looked more like a basketball gymnasium as well. But I am not sorry that I went because it was different, and there was a lot of thought that went into creating this park. It also had a great message — environmental protection because if we are not careful, our disregard for the planet may spur the second great flood.
If you are a tourist visiting Hong Kong and if you have kids, do check out Noah’s Ark Park and Resort, for more information, click here.
This is a repost from my other blog: http://www.budjetsetter.wordpress.com